Saturday, August 23, 2014

Bordering On Disaster In West Africa

Ivory Coast, West Africa's largest economy, is closing its land borders with neighboring Liberia and Guinea in an effort to prevent the spread of Ebola.

Ivory Coast, French-speaking West Africa's largest economy, had previously imposed a ban on flights to and from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

"Faced with new outbreak sites and the reactivation of old sites...the Ivorian government decides to close its land borders with sister republics Guinea and Liberia," said a statement read on state-owned television late on Friday.

Liberia's Nimba County, which shares a border with Ivory Coast, has seen the number of Ebola cases balloon in recent weeks. According to Moses Massaquoi, the head of Ebola case management at Liberia's health ministry, 65 cases including 25 confirmed patients have now been reported there.

"The number of cases in Nimba has spiked recently and it is now an area of concern," Massaquoi told Reuters.

Ebola has killed 1,427 people out of 2,615 known cases identified since the West Africa outbreak was first identified in Guinea in March, according to WHO figures released on Friday.

However, families hiding infected loved ones and the existence of "shadow zones" where medics cannot go mean that the true scale of the epidemic is unknown, the U.N. health agency said.

The problem with closing land borders is that it's making an already tough issue with getting humanitarian aid and medical supplies worse. Hopefully some reason will start prevailing here as it's only a matter of time before a large African city gets Ebola cases, but getting the supplies in to these places is far more important.

We'll see.

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